Oooheer it's been a while since I've blogged. Or visited a blog.
Somehow the last few weeks of the Swiss summer holidays has taken over and any time left has either found Sapphire on the computer skyping or me too tired to bother.
And that's not a bad thing. We've just hit the 'three month mark' and it finds us in pretty good shape. A few more French words and phrases are in the repertoire thanks to two 1-hour lessons a week; the tram timetables are now very familiar and the apartment, whilst still most appropriately described as 'Minimalist meets 1970s perfectly preserved' feels like home.
But there are some things, in these remaining few days before Sapphire starts her new school, that I'll never get used to.
Are you ready?
..... because it's not always pretty. The Swiss may have a reputation for being serious and spotless but there seems to be a widely accepted exception to this rule.
The loophole applies only to men who use public transport. It is in this situation that they are allowed to openly and languidly pick their noses. They do not do this furtively or with any sense of shame, hiding behind a newspaper or fluffed up hanky; no - Sapphire and I have seen far too many examples of blokes entertaining themselves for the duration of their journey by thoroughly investigating the contents of what they fished out of their nostrils with their pointer fingers. One man's face looked as though he had frenzied eels swimming under his sinuses he was mining so hard.....
Sapphire was almost in danger of breaking the code of silence when she gasped in shock one morning. A young, well-dressed business man, maybe late twenties, had had enough of inspecting the glistening globule resting on top of his left digit and flicked it away. The offending object splatted against the glass partition in front of us.
We both reeled back in horror and distaste yet his blank expression did not change.
I blame the lack of cake for this travesty.
You see, it is impossible to buy self-raising flour anywhere in Geneva. Plain flour yes, and apparently you can - if the phase of the moon is right, the gods of bureaucracy and importation are smiling in their raclettes and all opportunities for setting off fireworks have temporarily been suspended - find some baking powder.
But clearly it is a task that causes most people to give up in despair and settle for eating tarts. Yes, tarts. Now, tarts are perfectly fine to eat and look rather good with glistening slices of apple or big spoonfuls of fresh berries ladled on but not every day, every meal or on every bloody counter of every cafe as their 'dessert selection'. They're the only sweetish thing available in bakeries, cafes or supermarkets apart from meringues and brownies with the appearance and consistency of roof tiles. I quickly found my heart sinking at the sight of them and kept hankering for a slice of cake. Any kind of cake; even the dry old sliced Balfours 'teacake' rectangles that nannas buy from woolies. Hell, a mere muffin would do.
I decided to search for this much-discussed but seldom seen baking powder.
It doesn't come in tins like in Australia but sachets.
Of course those sachets are written only in French and German, so one day I danced home in what was surely a victory stance to find my dictionary only to discover that I'd found yeast instead.
Then powdered gelatine.
And something called Raffermissuer. *sigh*
I then heard that desperate expats have been known to drive over the border to France to find it at the obscenely overpriced Jim's UK Foods for Overpaid and Exceedingly Homesick UN Diplomats Shop (or something like that). Seeing as we don't have a car and are still getting over the fact that the only red meat we can afford is 'hackfleisch' mince that has 'trois meats' that aren't named, it wasn't likely.
I'll keep on searching because the last thing I want to witness is Love Chunks blending in as a local undertaking a big-thumbed booger hunt on the number 16 tram.....